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I was asked to sing and play at this show...

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Led Fo Yo Hed, May 7, 2004.


  1. ...by one of my friends. He wants me to play bass, and sing on some songs. I have no problems with the difficulty of the songs, as I can play them just fine.

    My problem is that, though I don't have a horrible voice, I find it very difficult to sing and play at the same time. I end up concentrating on one too hard, and f*cking up the other. Do any of you lead/backup singers who also play bass in your band have any suggestions about how I can learn to do this. Is it just practice? Doing it a lot? I need help.

    (By the way I'm new here and I'm not sure if this post belongs in this forum or in Technique. Bear with me.)
     
  2. Baofu

    Baofu

    Mar 8, 2003
    WA/CA
    Practice works for me. Getting to the point where you don't have to concentrate much on either is where you want to be.
     
  3. RicPlaya

    RicPlaya

    Apr 22, 2003
    Whitmoretucky MI
    Normally you just can't jump into that. Take your time, get the parts right. Practice, practice, practice!!!
     
  4. Tony

    Tony

    Feb 16, 2004
    Southern California
    What works best for me is to make sure I really know the bass and vocal parts independently. Once I've got the 2 parts nailed, then I'll try singing while playing the part to find out where the rough spots are. Unless either or both of the parts are off the hook, you should only have a couple of spots that are really difficult. Usually, it'll either be vocal hits that don't match the bass hits, or else it's parts that move in opposite directions i.e. your vocal is an ascending line while the bass is descending. Once you've identified those parts, start subdividing the beats so that you can nail where the hits are (maybe you're hitting a bass note on the 3 but the vocal is on the 3 and). Go slow and work your way through them until it's comfortable, then practice, practice, practice. With time, it gets a lot easier ...
    Good luck,
    Tony
     
  5. Don't worry if it's not exactly on time with the recording. Geddy Lee and many other bassist/singers alter the vocal melody a little bit while playing bass live. Concentrate on getting the bass down with the song, firstly, and then sing it on top in any way possible, as long as the bass stays true. As Tony said, if the bass not is on the 3 and the vocal is on the 3-and, you could probably just sing the vocal on the 3 instead for ease. Just play around with it, most singers alter the vocals ever so slightly anyways.
     
  6. ambolina

    ambolina Guest

    Apr 7, 2004
    San Diego, Ca
    I recently joined my first band. I play bass and sing backing vocals, and like yourself, had never sang and played before. What I had to do was learn to play the bass part first until the timing & rhythms became automatic for me, then I started trying to sing. And of course it screwed up my playing for a bit. Songs that had been super easy to play, became difficult but after a few rehearsals, everything tightened up.

    So learn your bass parts until they're automatic and you don't have to think about them. Practice the vocals seperate (I'd sing in my car on the way to work) to learn that. Then start doing them together. For me, since I'm still new to this, it's easier for me to sing vocals that sorta match the rhythm of the part I have to play. What's frustrating (but funny too) is I can't sing and play 8ths - such an easy pattern, but once I start singing, especially if it's a vocal that's very halting - more like talk-singing - I fall off rhythm.

    But it's totally fun. I was intimidated to try singing and playing, but now I love it and I always want to play the songs where I get a lot of vocals. =) Good luck!
     
  7. supermonkey

    supermonkey

    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    In addition to what's already been said (which is essentially to just practice until you get it):
    Try to logically organize your efforts to synchronize the bass and vocals. I find it helps direct the learning process.

    Sing and play the tune through, and see where you're OK vs. where you screw up. Print out the lyrics and map out on the sheet where the tricky bits happen. On the sections where you get screwed up, notate the opposition of the bass part against the vocal part; i.e. mark on which syllables the bass moves occur.
    With this you at least have a persistent cue, and while you're learning the lyrics you're reminiding yourself of bass obligations. And then, as stated, it's just practice, practice, practice until it's like buttah.

    At a show last fall we covered King Crimson's "Easy Money", which happens to have a strong lead vocal part in 7/8 sung against a rock-solid but very spare bass part in 4/4 which essentially just hits a low E on the 1. But everything on both parts had to be super-tight -- and given the polyrhythm, it was a bitch! I ended up doing what I described above, making a little ticky mark on my lyric sheet each syllable where a bass hit occurred -- marking the 1 of the 4/4 bass part on the opposing syllable of the lyric. By the time I could sing all the lyrics from memory, I had also incorporated that hit on the 1 as a by-product. :D
     
  8. only advice I can offer is get a mic and practice singing with it. I don't know about anybody else but the sound of my own voice out a PA freaks me a bit and getting used to the distence you need to stand from the mic while playing is tricky.